FBI Says Priest Lied about Kidnapping

Associated Press
June 10, 1982

A Roman Catholic priest has recanted his dramatic story of being abducted at gunpoint while stopped at a traffic light near Pittsburgh, an FBI agent said today.

Special Agent Jeff Kimball said the Rev. David Dzermejko still says he was kidnapped, but that he actually picked up his alleged abductors while driving in Ohio.

Kimball, who is based in the FBI's Pittsburgh office, said, "Why he lied, or why he changed his story after the abduction, I'm going to have to stay in a no comment field."

Dzermejko, 33, was found wandering along Interstate 79 near Elkview north of Charleston early Tuesday. Police said he told them he had had been abducted by two men as he stopped at a traffic light in Pittsburgh, and that he was bound and thrown in the back seat of his car before being released five hours later.

But Kimball said today that Dzermejko has admitted he lied about the circumstances of the kidnapping.

According to Kimball, Dzermejko told investigators Wednesday he picked up the two men while they were hitchhiking along Interstate 70 near St. Clairsville, Ohio, about 60 miles west of Pittsburgh.

Kimball declined to comment on why Dzermejko was driving through Ohio. After the kidnapping, church officials had said the priest was going to visit his parents in Braddock, Pa.

Dzermejko was reported in seclusion today by a secretary at St. Teresa's Roman Catholic Church in Perrysville, Pa., and could not be reached for comment.

On Tuesday, Dzermejko told police he was abducted just outside of Pittsburgh. He said he was waiting at a stop light when "someone suddenly had a gun to my head and told me if I moved I'd be dead. I was literally thrown out of the car and into the back seat. They were constantly threatening to shoot."

Dzermejko's car was discovered Tuesday evening in Wheeling, W.Va., and police had said they were perplexed about why the men kidnapped the priest in Pittsburgh, released him 225 miles away in Charleston, and then drove back toward Pittsburgh to West Virginia's Northern Panhandle.

Kimball said the priest has not changed the rest of his story. He told police he was robbed of his car, $200 in cash, his identification and credit cards by the two assailants, who are at large.


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